Building raised beds

square foot garden

Building raised beds is an easy and exiting exersize that starts with choosing the shape and size of your raised beds and location of raised beds in your garden. Raised beds come in many shapes, 4x4 raised bed being the most popular.

Square Foot Gardening system insists that size matters and it has to be 4x4, while others, like Food4Wealth, allow various sizes. So if you are still unsure what is the best size and shape of the raised bed, read my review of the Best ways to start raised bed vegetable garden: How to choose raised bed size.


 I have deviated from some of the SFG recommendations simply because I found other ideas more convenient and easy. My garden is flourishing and there is no reason to think that my simple way of building raised beds was worse than the original one. 

Why even bother buiding raised beds...

... when you may have perfectly great top soil in your garden? It's because you want to use a special mix for your square foot garden, and you want no weeds in it. Good reason for a little bit of work upfront, isn't it?

Building raised beds? Choose the right location

Choose the area that gets at least 6-8 hours of sun every day. It should not be under the mature trees. If the only area that qualifies are the rails of your deck, consider hanging boxes on the rails!

Plan to have at least one-two feet for the walkways in between the raised beds. Keep them at least one foot away from the fence. You will need this to freely reach your plants.

Choose the layout of raised bed vegetable garden

First of all, you have to decide what kind of raised beds suit your garden's layout more. The most practical designs are:

  • Classic. Boxes 4x4 ft. Looks great, easily accessible for planting and watering, easy to make and maintain.
  • Elaborate. Box 4x4 ft with the box 2x2 ft on top of it. Looks more sophysticated, however requires more soil and more wood to build for the same planting square footage.
  • Rectangular 2x4, 2x6 or 2x8. There are two schools of thoughts, both harvesting great tomatoes in their square foot gardens. The classical school advocates using square boxes, the other school finds rectangular ones set in rows more convenient.
  • 15x6 is the size recommended by Food4Wealth. This garden plot allows your plants to form a mini-ecosystem and protect each other from pests and diseases better. 
  • 4x1 - this was my idea for my small but very sunny deck. It is hard for plants to grow in 4x1 boxes! Water drains too fast, there is not enough soil it seems. If you go this direction, I  recommend to either make your boxes at least half a foot deeper or wider. If I was to start over again, I would make my boxes 4x2 or at least 4x1.5 feet.

The depth of the raised bed should be  minimum 6-8 inches. 8 inches is more practical, as you might find it hard to mix the soil in the 6-inch deep container. 

Remember to leave at least a foot around your raised bed so that you can go around it and reach any plant in it without  dificulty. The most popular layout for raised beds is just next to each other on the sunny or half-shade spots in your backyard.

2x8 and 2x6 raised beds are usually installed in rows with one or two feet between them.

Make your raised bed boxes

There is no end to the designs one can create. I vote for the simplicity! Your plants will grow beautifully in the box, thus distracting attention from all the sweat you put into the creative designs :) It's better to take lumber 1x6 or 2x6 and make a simple frame than miss a planting season suffering from the perfectionism.

Pick any wood except treated wood as it will leak chemicals into the soil and, therefore, into your otherwice organic food supply. I selected cedar for its' durability and looks.

Build a frame. Just cut the lumber and nail the pieces together. Building raised beds may be complicated by the lack of equipment - so before you go to the store for the lumber, decide what you want and get your lumber cut in the store according to your specifications.

Find an old tarp, plastic or carpeting piece that would cover the area under your raised bed box. It will prevent whatever is under the raised bed from growing through your square foot container.

Build the dividers from the planks to separate one square foot from another. Or use my simpler idea: put a nail in the box every foot of the frame's length, and use a while nailon or cotton thread for the separation. square foot garden boxes

You are ready for the installation!

Installation of raised beds

with the help of level or a glass with water, try to make the area for the square foot garden as horisontal is possible.

spread the plastic to cover the area. set the box and curl the plastic inside the box.

You did it!

Small square beds and rows are especially good for the children. When they watch their plants grow, water them, care for them, they are much more inclined to try them at the dinner table! Building raised beds together can be a memorable experience. You can allow your kids to nail the pieces together and teach them how to level a raised bed. They would be thrilled  to have this experience, and you don't have to worry if they make a mistake or two. After all, this is just a wooden box for your garden!

Is not it amazing how simple pieces of wood put together can transform your backyard, your menu, and your health? Don't stop here, it is time for the SFG Planting Mix...


Did you find my step-by-step guide useful? Spread the message on Facebook and encourage your friends to build their own raised bed garden easily:



90% of visitors find this site on Google. This is the system I followed to get 1000 visitors per day:
The System To Online Success For Dummies

Return Home from Building raised beds
Go to the review of SFG method:Why and how to grow healthy food
Read my review of another new book, The Superfood Gardener, especially if you plant in soil rather than soil mix
Read seven reasons to start growing kale

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